Kenya is a major transit point for illegal weapons destined to war torn countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the East Africa Legislative Assembly has said. EALA speaker Abdirahin Abdi said this is due to Kenya's strategic position through its port of Mombasa and other long porous borders with her neighbours.
Abdi was speaking in Mombasa when he officially opened a two day sensitisation forum on the need to support Small Arms And Light Weapons for parliamentary security, defence and budget committees. "Seventy five per cent of this region is awash with close to 500,000 illicit arms. The East African region records reveals 50,000-130,000 firearms have illegally found their way into the country. Unfortunately, Kenya seems to be a major transit point for these weapons," Abdi said. Kenya was represented by Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo who called on corporation between member states and goodwill from the public to combat SALW.
Abdi added that the continuous flow of SALW into the region is worrying at a time when the region is experiencing political instability in South Sudan, Somalia and DRC among other states.
"Regional Center for Small Arms (RECSA) has a huge task ahead in dealing with the rising number of weapons and that is why we have convened this meeting," Abdi said
He also blamed continued political agitation and instability for the demand for such weapons. He cited the aggression between South Sudan and Sudan and the war-torn Somalia.
"SALW has proved to be a greatest challenge to security in the region and we are worried it may undermine the integration process. I call upon the RECSA member states and others to consider reviewing their border policies to curb SALW proliferation," he added. RECSA member states were urged to consider enhancing exchange of criminal intelligence and other security information.
RECSA executive secretary Francis Sang said joint security patrols in the areas considered porous including the Kenya-Somalia boarder would do well towards the SALW control process.
"We need to install common communication facilities for boarder and interstate security and implementing the Nairobi protocol on combating illicit drug and weapons trafficking," said Sang.